Why “Cancelling” A Show Is So Outdated In This Day and Age
Word came through the other day that FOX, after what surely must have been a long discussion (/sarcasm), had decided to swing the axe on Jonah Hill’s much vaunted animated show, Gregory Allen.
So this poses an interesting question, and it’s one that will surely have a different answer than if it had been asked the last time we had this kind of situation on FOX:
What does it even mean to “cancel” a TV show any more?
Seriously! So you “cancel” it from being broadcast on TV. Well, as my fiance would say, woop-di-freakin-do! TV (and I’m talking about traditional, OTA, satellite and cable scheduled programming here) is rapidly becoming a smaller and smaller part of the entertainment landscape anyway, why does it even matter?
FOX already hosts its shows in a couple of places online and its fair to say that a sizeable portion of their audience is watching them there rather than “tuning in” during the week.
With that in mind, would it not make more sense to simply release the episodes online instead? Just because you “cancel” the show, does that automatically preclude that you have to suddenly archive the remaining episodes never to be seen again?
No, of course not!
Why not instead just say that Allen Gregory has moved to being exclusively online? My train of thought is that at some point we’ll see a deeper connection between TV and the web. YouTube is currently pioneering the way with original series (shout out to the YouTube Next Lab) whose quality is rapidly approaching that of traditional TV and it’s only a matter of time before we see audience shifts to them. My point? If a show begins life online and become popular, it could easily be “transferred” to TV with a scheduled timeslot while remaining online, thereby capturing both audiences.
Shows could also go the other way. Say they start out on TV but don’t really find their audience, then they could move to the online world and carry on as before.
We’ve seen some rudimentary moves in this regard with the likes of Sit Down, Shut Up. Which, after getting canned, eventually returned as FOX burned off the episodes in the middle of the night. However, they also went up on Hulu, where it was possible for fans (such as myself) to finally see them. And apparently they’re now on Comedy Central (somewhere) too!
Just imagine what kind of online numbers they could have gotten if they had put them online straight away!
Animation is slightly trickier than live-action as they shows pretty much have to be produced before the season begins. That means that it really doesn’t make any sense to “cancel” an animated show and then pretend it doesn’t exist.
To be cliched and quote Bob Dylan: the times, they are a changin’.